School of Media and Communication

Phil Taylor's papers


The Green Book (UK)

The Green Book sets out working arrangements with the media in times of emergency, tension, conflict or war.

Main Text


1. During a military crisis, or a period of tension, or in war threatening the United Kingdom, at home or overseas, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) will aim to provide for the media a range of facilities to enable first hand reporting, in addition to an accurate, objective and timely information service.

2. Throughout the emergency or conflict, editors and journalists will be briefed at various levels and locations so that a regular and frank flow of information is maintained, with the aims of ensuring that the back ground situation and the operational response is understood and that the British public can be properly informed of events.

3. In the United Kingdom, briefings by ministers, officials and military officers, visits to units and other facilities will be arranged to demonstrate first the Armed Forces' preparations to mobilise and deploy and, later, to give up-to-date information about operations and the political situation.

4. In the theatre of operations, a media information service will be established at national and allied headquarters. Facilities will be provided for a balanced spread of as many press, television and radio representatives as possible to represent the media as a whole with British units in the front line.

5. The MOD and the Armed Forces will strive to give as many facilities and as much information as possible, subject to operational and security constraints. Where it is necessary to impose security vetting, the MOD will seek the co-operation of editors in achieving a system which is fair and even handed and which is applied only in the interest of national or operational security, to safeguard UK or Allied operations or lives.


6. Early in a crisis and/or when military action is anticipated, the MOD's Director News, will open talks with editors and media organisations. The dialogue will continue, as appropriate, throughout a crisis.

7. Discussions will be in line with provisions outlined in this handbook and will cover practical and policy issues of mutual concern; such as security and security vetting, the nature of facilities for the Media, restrictions (if any) on numbers and allocation of places, pooling, accreditation, the degree of MOD support for correspondents, relations with Allied countries, communications and general advice for editors and correspondents to assist their own preparations.


8. The Director News will maintain a dialogue with editors on the issue of security and security vetting. Written guidance will be issued on security matters. "REGULATIONS FOR CORRESPONDENTS" (Annex A) will set out the principles governing the activities and conduct of correspondents attached to UK Forces. In addition, a 24-hour advisory service will be established, which editors may consult if in any doubt about security issues.


9. Specialist PR staff will be dispatched to the theatre of operations with the first troop deployments to assist with the provision of media facilities at British and Allied headquarters and with units in the field.


10. Where UK Forces are operating overseas, the MOD will assist editors, wherever possible, with introductions to Allied and host nation authorities and will give advice on local circumstances, travel, administration and equipment needs. However, generally, employers will be responsible for securing visas and making their own travel and domestic arrangements for members of their staffs.

11. Except in specific, previously agreed, instances - usually only MOD-sponsored facilities in the front line - it will not be possible for the MOD or the Armed Forces to provide travel, accommodation and food, equipment, or communications for correspondents. Media representatives will need to prepare to be self-sufficient.


12. It is likely that all media representatives in the theatre of operations will be required to register with the military authorities to gain recognition as bona fide correspondents.

(Note: The term "correspondent" covers all media disciplines in this context - journalists, cameramen, technicians and production staff).

13. In operations involving UK Forces only, this will be done by application to the MOD Director News. Where NATO or other Allies are involved, the checking of credentials and registration of media representatives may be carried out in the UK or at an Allied Press Information Centre (APIC) in theatre. Alternatively, host nations may insist on registering all media at national centres. The Director News will advise editors of procedures at the time.


14. Correspondents will be offered a range of facilities by British and Allied Forces. In the UK this will include attendance at Press conferences and briefings and visits to units and establishments. In theatre, registered correspondents will gain access to APICs and national Press Information Centres at major and subordinate headquarters and to Allied press conferences, briefings and organised visits to units in the field.

15. However, of necessity, facilities to report with British troops in the front line will be limited, probably to a number of "accredited correspondents," who will represent the media as a whole (see SELECTION OF ACCREDITED CORRESPONDENTS below).

16. Wherever possible, all other facilities given by the MOD and British Forces will be granted to all media representatives. However, for security and practical reasons, on occasions - especially in the theatre of operations - numbers may have to be limited. In such cases, the MOD will endeavour to provide as many places as possible, allocated under a pooling system, so that the media as a whole can be represented (see POOLING below).

17. Wherever possible, the Director News will give lists and descriptions of the facilities, in advance, to assist editors in making decisions on whether to make a special bid for those where they have a specific interest. This will be particularly important in the case of front line facilities.

18. By making a wide range and number of facilities available and by adopting the pooling system, both in the UK and in theatre, it is hoped that editors will be represented fairly and will gain a complete overall picture of events from a variety of sources.


19. The MOD will accredit all correspondents before accepting them to accompany a British unit in the front line during the build up to potential conflict or in war. This will be necessary to protect operational security in view of the high degree of operational access that it is planned to give.

20. Accreditation will be at the discretion of the MOD, which will reserve the right to decide on numbers and to withhold or withdraw accreditation. However, the MOD will not employ accreditation to influence the choice of individuals. The reasons for any limitations on numbers will be the subject of discussion and explanation.

21. The MOD will decide on the numbers of correspondents that can be accepted on any pooled front line facility, having regard to all the operational and practical factors in each case. MOD will also decide the composition of groups. If possible, representatives of the UK national and regional press, news agencies, broadcasters, and foreign media (in no particular order), will be included in every facility (see example ANNEX G), with the aim of ensuring fair representation and balanced coverage across the whole media spectrum.

22. Having announced the numbers and composition of a front line facility, the MOD believes that the choice of which titles and individual correspondents should represent the media as a whole should be left to media organisations and editors.

23. Therefore, in the case of the press, the Newspaper Society, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and Scottish Daily Newspaper Society, in consultation with editors, will be invited to select which newspapers will be allocated places on each facility. In the case of the broadcast media and agencies, where there are no corresponding associations, individual managements will be asked to reach mutual agreements. Editors of all titles selected will be expected to nominate individual correspondents. The MOD does not intend to be involved in this selection process unless news organisations are unable to reach agreement.

24. The selection process for front line facilities, when accreditation is necessary, will be as follows:

Written Press: The Director News will advise the Newspaper Society, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and Scottish Daily Newspaper Society of the numbers of places available to national and regional newspaper reporters, photographers, editorial assistants etc on each facility. The Press organisations, in consultation with editors, will decide which titles should provide the correspondents (including reserves) to represent the newspapers as a whole.

Broadcast Media and Agencies: The Director News will inform individual managements of the number of places available to television, radio and agencies for reporters, cameramen and photographers, technicians and production staff on each facility. Managements and editors in consultation will decide on which companies will represent them collectively (including reserves).

All Cases: Editors will select individual correspondents for the facilities which are allocated to them and should make immediate application to the MOD Director News for those individuals (and reserves) to be accredited.

(Note: Accredited correspondents may also be required to register with the host nation authorities if deploying overseas. The MOD will assist editors in this, where possible, but it will remain the responsibility of editors).

25. A similar procedure will be adopted for other facilities not involving accredited correspondents, where it is necessary to restrict numbers (see POOLING below).

26. Details of accreditation formalities are contained in "Regulations for Correspondents," at Annex A. Specimens of the required Applications form, Accreditation form and Declaration are at Annexes B, C and D. The MOD will require indemnity forms to be signed by correspondents and their employers and may ask for proof of adequate insurance cover before accrediting individuals. The Form of Indemnity is at Annex E.

27. When selecting correspondents for facilities in the front line, editors should have regard to their physical stamina and ability to endure difficult and dangerous environments, since commanders will have the right to refuse access to a unit if, by reason of unfitness or temperament, and individual is believed likely to endanger operations, or the safety of personnel.

28. If accreditation is refused, or an individual is considered unsuited to field conditions, the MOD will inform his or her editor immediately, explaining the reasons for refusal. Refusal will not prejudice further nominations.

29. Those accredited war correspondents who are selected for a front line facility will be placed by the MOD at a number of days or hours notice to move. The period of notice may alter as the situation develops. When placed on notice to move, correspondents will be expected to prepare themselves so that they are ready in all respect. In addition to the actions in Preparations by Correspondents at Annex F the MOD will offer further advice and assistance as appropriate.


30. In time of conflict, accredited correspondents attached to front line UK Forces will be designated as "war correspondents" and issued with authority documents. They will be encouraged to wear distinguishing "media" insignia while working with units in the field. The will not per permitted to carry arms.

31. Their independence as media representatives will be protected by the issue by the MOD of internationally-recognised identity cards, authorising them as "civilians accompanying - but not part of - an armed force". This will give them (officer status) prisoner of war protection under the terms of the Geneva Convention should they be captured.

32. They will be taken on the strength of their assigned unit for administrative purposes and provided with documentation, military clothing, protective equipment, training, accommodation and food. (A charge may be raised for food and accommodation).

33. Military transport within the theatre of operations. - and possibly to and from the UK - by road, sea, or air, may be provided but, normally, correspondents will be responsible for their own personal and professional requirements.

34. Correspondents will also be expected to provide their own communications and transmission equipment. If absolutely necessary, assistance with communications may be given using military or MOD-controlled civil facilities. However, since the actual act of transmission could endanger an operation, or the safety of a unit under some circumstances, the use of both military and correspondents' own equipment will be at the discretion of commanders. Charges will be raised for the use of Service equipment.

35. When attached to units, correspondents will gain privileged access to personnel - particularly commanders. They will be afforded all possible briefings and other facilities, including the opportunity to accompany British troops in battle. Their individual requirements will be met wherever possible.

36. In return, they will have to be subject to some military orders and training, both for their own safety and that of the unit.

37. Correspondents will be required to submit all their material for security vetting and to undertake not to publish or divulge any operationally sensitive information gained as a member of a unit, without the specific permission of commanders (see under SECURITY VETTING). In addition they will have to agree not to cover events from the opposing side at any later stage, without the prior agreement of the MOD.

38. If a correspondent is killed or injured, the MOD will inform his or her employer as soon as the information is confirmed. It will be the employer's responsibility to inform the next of kin.


39. Subject to conditions at the time, the MOD plans to offer facilities for correspondents with UK combats units under arrangements comparable to the Gulf Media Response Teams.

40. These Front Line Media Pools (FLMPs) will be a multi-discipline group of about six or seven accredited correspondents assigned to an individual combat unit. As many as possible FLMPs) will be formed, normally at brigade-level; or in ships at sea, with naval battlegroups; or at air bases.

41. Members of FLMPs will live and work alongside the troops, sharing their food, accommodation and basic domestic chores. Protective clothing and training will be provided. Within operational constraints, FLMP members will be given as many front line facilities as possible. (During the Gulf War, for instance, correspondents went into battle alongside company commanders in their armoured vehicles).

42. The host unit will be responsible for the dispatch of material produced by the FLMPs and for arranging security vetting (see under COMMUNICATIONS and FORWARD TRANSMISSION UNITS below).

43. The MOD does not intend to impose compulsory rotation of FLMPs except possibly where operations continue over a protracted period. Indeed, once attached to a FLMP, it may be operationally difficult for a correspondent to leave. FLMPs have been shown to be more effective and less of an operational risk once correspondents have become familiar in working with their assigned units in operational conditions and a degree of mutual trust has been established. Therefore, FLMP members normally will be rotated only in the event of accident, or fatigue, or at the request of editors. If for any reason, a correspondent were to leave a FLMP, the place would be offered to another from the same media category - not necessarily from the same newspaper or broadcasting company but on a "next-on-the-list" basis. Any general change-over of correspondents would be made by the MOD in consultation with media organisations.


44. The success of the FLMPs and any other front-line facilities, for both the media and the MOD, will depend on the rapid processing of material from theatre to news offices. However, the movement and transmission of news material in an operational area will be fraught with difficulties and at times the act of transmission itself could jeopardise an operation or endanger a unit. Therefore, the carriage of media material, and its transmission, will be subject to both the safety of military personnel and to operational and security requirements.

45. Nevertheless, the MOD and commanders and PR staff in the field will use their best efforts to achieve a rapid and efficient news delivery service. Help with transport for their own communication equipment will be given to FLMP members if possible and, in exceptional circumstances, military networks may be made available, subject to overriding operational needs.

46. On the battlefield, it is likely that one or more Forward Transmission Units (FTUs) will be set up at convenient locations behind the front line (possibly at divisional headquarters). These will normally be the handling points where material being sent by correspondents in the FLMPs can be security vetted and transmitted to the UK. They may also serve as centres for the provision of editing suites for broadcasters, for pool material distribution and as a convenient point from which to provide media briefings and to arrange general media facilities close to the front.

47. In ships, or at some air based, the functions of the FTUs and FLMPs may be combined and, for practical reasons, security vetting may be conducted by the commanding officer rather than a dedicated vetting officer (see SECURITY VETTING below).


48. For those registered correspondents not accompanying front line units there will be a range of other services offered at APICs and national PICs. Wherever possible, these will include:

§ factual information, through briefings and Press conferences and the provision of official photographs and video film;

§ interviews with commanders and troops;

§ communications and transport (limited);

§ facilities to accompany units into the field.

49. It is probable that these latter facilities will be organised on an opportunity basis for groups of non-accredited correspondents to visit units and commanders in the field for specific events. They will be in addition to the FLMP facilities provided for accredited war correspondents.

50. Almost certainly they will be on a pooled basis. However, the precise conditions - i.e. whether pooling, security vetting, or embargoes will be in force and the degree of assistance with food, accommodation and equipment that will be possible - will be laid down at the time the facility is offered.

51. All media representatives accepting these special facilities, will be required to agree to abide by the "GROUND RULES for CORRESPONDENTS" (see Annex A) and to submit all material for security vetting if required. Breach of the Ground Rules may result in facilities being withdrawn.

52. Media representatives who gain access to operational areas, other than under the auspices of MOD or Allied PR staffs, should appreciate that they do so at their own risk and that neither MOD nor Allied staffs can be held responsible for their safety or assistance. Journalists who choose to act independently should also appreciate that, if their presence or actions are considered to pose a threat to operational security, however inadvertently, they may be liable to removal along with other civilians.


53. The Director News will hold detailed discussions with editors and media organisations to ensure adequate practical provision for outside broadcast units, briefing and interview facilities and, wherever possible, to meet individual requirements. A programme of regular press conferences, briefings and facilities will be organised and individual briefing and interview requirements met where possible.


54. In the UK and in theatre the MOD will provide briefings in various forms:

§ High level meetings with editors or senior editorial staff to resolve operational and facility difficulties and as an aid to understanding strategic thinking and the background to events.

§ A 24-hour media enquiry service provided by the MOD Press Office.

§ A 24-hour high-level MOD advisory service for editors.

§ Open Press conferences by ministers, senior officers and/or officials.

§ Background briefings for defence correspondents. (These will be limited to recognised specialist defence correspondents, although the MOD may accept nominated deputies at these briefings, provided that they have relevant experience and can maintain continuity. This will be to ensure that the value and content of background briefings are not degraded).

55. MOD and military spokesmen will offer these briefings at various levels under one of the following terms:

§ Attributable: The information is for use and can be quoted in full. It will be either "directly attributable" (where the spokesman can be identified by name), or "indirectly attributable" (where the person providing the information cannot be identified by name but can normally be described as "and MOD official ", "a UK military spokesman", etc).

§ Unattributable: The information may be used but may not be attributed to a named source, either and individual or the organisation involved. Hence, for example, "informed sources", or reliable sources", but not "Ministry of Defence sources", or "4th Armoured Division sources".

§ Background: the information is given to aid greater understanding. It will be stated at the time whether it may be used but, if used, may not be attributed in any way, except as though from a journalist's own knowledge.

§ Not for Use: The information may not be published and is given only to aid greater understanding. The term "off the record", is sometimes misinterpreted, misunderstood and misused. It will not be employed.

56. The conditions of any briefing will be stated in advance.


57. Pooling arrangements will apply whenever demand exceeds capacity on a facility.

58. News organisations, editors and correspondents will have to agree among themselves about matters of style and presentation, resolve any differences about selection and representation and establish mutually acceptable working practices for pools and distribution of material. Editors whose representatives accept a pooled facility will be asked to make their own arrangements for making material available to the rest of the media.

59. If pooling occurs it will mean that all written material and photographs and unabridged copies of broadcast tapes and film produced by all correspondents resulting from the facility will have to be made available to all media outlets on request.

60. The MOD does not wish to interfere in matters of working practices or representation and selection, except in cases of unresolved differences among the media, when it may be forced to make the decisions in the greater public interest.

61. Wherever possible, pooling arrangements will be made at news organisation/editor level but, at times, facility opportunities may arise in theatre at short notice. In these circumstances, the MOD would hope that arrangements with the media could be made locally by the PR staff through a "pool co-ordinator" appointed by the media corps in theatre (as was done successfully during Operation Granby).


62. The purpose of security vetting material produced by war correspondents attached to units is to ensure only that no information is inadvertently made public which might be of benefit to an enemy, or would endanger an operation, or the lives of British or allied Servicemen or civilians.

63. Security vetting will be exercised in theatre. It will be an operational function of the UK Force Commander and will be conducted by operational officers, separate from the PR function.

64. The MOD will not impose a second tier of vetting in London. Matters of taste and presentation will be for the media - although the MOD reserves the right to make its views known and make representations to editors where particular sensitivities arise.

65. The aim will be to achieve a system which is fair, enlightened and efficient and to establish a relationship with the media based on openness and co-operation, leading to understanding and the acceptance of advice as to what is and what is not genuinely, operationally sensitive.

66. Wherever possible, the PR staff and commanders, in London and in the theatre of operations, will attempt to explain the reasons why information cannot be given, or must be delayed. They will not attempt to deceive journalists or use them deliberately and unwittingly in furthering deception plans, although there will be, of course, occasions when operations are mounted to deceive the enemy when their true purpose will not be disclosed.

67. The MOD recognises that views on what is and what is not of security value are subjective and that individual vetting officers may apply different judgements. However, it will strive to achieve a system which is fair and even-handed. In the field, PR staff will represent the views of correspondents to vetting officers in cases of disagreement, and they will liaise with senior officers in theatre, and with the MOD, to ensure that vetting decisions are made for purely operational reasons.

68. On the home front, editors should be aware that analysis of events and capabilities by well-informed specialists, such as academics, or retired officers and officials, could be of assistance to an enemy. They are requested, therefore, to take special care when inviting speculation from such experts.


69. For the convenience of the media, there may be occasions when editors or correspondents are provided with operational information on the understanding that it will be embargoed. This will prevent information being published that would be of value to the enemy but will allow early briefing of the media when it would otherwise not be possible, thereby giving the media time to prepare material, or to plan for an event.

70. The MOD undertakes not to use an embargo unnecessarily, or for other than operational reasons. The reasons for its imposition will be explained, wherever possible, at the time it is declared and it will be in force for the minimum amount of time necessary.

71. It should be understood that this could mean at times that a journalist in theatre might be entrusted not be communicate information even to his or her editor until the expiry of the embargo.

72. Information supplied under embargo implies considerable trust. Breaches will, therefore, be viewed seriously and may result in loss of accreditation and withdrawal of all facilities.


73. The MOD IS anxious to maintain close co-operation with editors during hostile operations on the question of casualties. It recognises that casualty information is of legitimate interest to the media and the public but it faces the difficulty that reports of casualties from individual operations could be of intelligence value to an enemy.

74. However, while there may be occasions when the MOD will be forced to delay the release of casualty information for security reasons, in general it will aim to make announcements of losses and numbers of casualties as soon as possible after they are confirmed. (For practical purposes, this might be at set times).

75. Casualties will be categorised as "killed (died on active service)", "injured", or "missing". It is unlikely that the MOD will be able to give details during the course of operations about the individual circumstances surrounding all casualties.

76. It may be necessary to identify an individual group, unit, or ship which has been lost and to give details of the scale of casualties and/or survivors before next of kin have been informed - either to minimise anxiety which might be caused to families whose loved ones are not involved, or to counter enemy propaganda.

77. However, the names of casualties will not be released or confirmed until the next of kin have been told officially.

78. Once the next of kin have been informed, the names, ages, marital status, units, and home areas (not addresses) of those killed will be announced by the MOD in London as soon as practical (Note: The Newspaper Society, which represents provincial newspapers, has objected to this policy and will continue to press the MOD to release home addresses in greater detail). The MOD may delay the release of names of the dead for a few hours, if requested by next of kin, for family reasons.

79. The names of personnel who are injured will not normally be released but the MOD, in some circumstances, may be prepared to confirm information obtained from other sources.

80. Journalists may be aware of the names of individual casualties before official announcements are made. Because of the danger that it could be of value to an enemy, editors are urged not to publish such information, gained from whatever source - even if it comes directly from a next of kin - until it is released or confirmed by the MOD.

81. The question of "missing" personnel poses a particular problem in this respect. In some circumstances it may be necessary for the MOD to withhold information about missing personnel for a considerable period - e.g. if a rescue operation is planned, or there is the likelihood they will evade capture. Editors should be aware that simply reporting that an individual is missing could be of value to the enemy, if they were unaware that he was evading capture. Similarly, personal information published about a missing serviceman could assist his interrogators if he were to be taken as a prisoner of war.

82. For this reason, aircrew or other service personnel who might be captured by the enemy should not be identified with a particular operation without first seeking advice from MOD. Editors are urged not to publish any information, from whatever source, which might identify these personnel or give details of their personal backgrounds. Details of their families, home-base and home-town addresses and any other information, including photographs, which could assist an interrogator, or be exploited for propaganda purposes, should be similarly protected. Interviews should not identify constituted crews, nor show aircrew in flying suits which bear names, squadron badges or flying brevets, nor provide any details of operations (e.g. heights, speeds, sortie frequency). Requests for interviews with operational aircrew and others who face the risk of being captured by the enemy may be considered subject to operational circumstances. Further guidance on aircrew interviews is given in Appendix 1 to Annex A.

83. The MOD would hope to enable the media to report the repatriation of wounded and, subject to the agreement of individuals and medical advice, would anticipate being able, on occasions, to offer facilities at reception points and hospitals for interviews with wounded personnel.

84. The MOD is anxious, however, that the families of those killed, wounded, or missing should not be subjected to undue stress. The MOD urges extreme discretion by editors in approaching next of kin, particularly before official announcements are made.

85. Editors are also requested to ensure that their staffs do not approach the welfare organisations and casualty "helpline" services which will be set up to assist the families of servicemen during times of armed conflict. Direct enquiries could seriously hamper the work of these organisations. Casualty information and information about welfare activities will be available from the MOD Press Office. Media facilities with the welfare organisations will be arranged by the MOD Press Office and PR staff in the commands.


86. The numbers of prisoners of war and the circumstances under which they are taken is a matter of legitimate public interest - but such publicity is constrained by the terms of the Geneva Convention.

87. The MOD and the UK Armed Forces will, therefore, attempt to provide accurate and up-to-date information and, where possible, will allow filming and photography to illustrate the scale and nature of capture. However, they will not offer any facility, or co-operate in any media activity, which contravenes the Geneva Convention.

88. One of the terms of the Convention is that prisoners of war must be protected from "public insult or curiosity". Interviews with prisoners, or close-up photography which focuses on individual prisoners is unlikely to be permitted.

89. The names of enemy prisoners of war and enemy dead held by UK Forces will not be made public by the MOD but will be released to the International Red Cross (IRC) in accordance with the terms of the Geneva Convention. The IRC will normally divulge names only through official government channels or to the next of kin.

90. The names of UK military and civilian prisoners of war, or those killed, whose bodies are held by the enemy, normally will be announced by the MOD once official confirmation has been received from the IRC. Until that time, either their names will not be released, or they will be listed as "missing."

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